The Fortress of Knin – Croatian Impressive Hidden Gem


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Knin is often found to be in the bucket list of almost all travel enthusiasts who have a soft corner of historical stories. The major attraction of Knin is the Knin Fortress, which is the second-largest military fortification of Europe. People find it attractive and look forward to spending some time in the place when in Knin. So, if you too are travelling to Knin, make sure you don’t miss out on this beautiful place. Also, be with us as we discuss the fortress and several other attractions of the capital.

Fortress of Knin

Located near Dinara, the tallest mountain in Croatia, and near the source of river Krka, Knin Fortress is the second-largest fortress in the central European and Mediterranean country, Croatia. The fort is a historical town in the Dalmatian hinterland of the Šibenik-Knin county. 

Also, it is the most significant defensive stronghold and is found in the south of Mount Spas, which happens to dominate Knin and its surroundings to offer stunningly beautiful views on all sides.

History of the Fortress of Knin

Let us know about the fortress from the very beginning. The construction of the fort initiated a long, long time back, as early as the 9th century. However, it wasn’t the same during its conclusion as it looks now. After the 9th century, the current state of the fortress was brought up in the 17th and 18th centuries. Demetrius Zvonimir was the king of Croatia from 1076.

So, the fort had reached its peak during his reign, and also served as the political centre of the kingdom of Croatia under him. 

  • The Fortress of Knin was built near a devastated Roman settlement by the Croats, not much time after their settlement in the area. Then, the fortress was continuously upgraded by its guardians as per the demands of the defensive requirements. After all, being the second-largest military fortification in Europe is not as easy as it might seem.
  • Knin Fortress was one of the residences of the monarchs of Croatia. However, later it became the primary residence as they found it to be a much safer option to rule from Knin, over the lands of Dalmatia and Liburnia. Also, it was safe to Christianize the pagan Croats in Lika, Krbava and Gacka from this fortress. 
  • When the fortress was built, it contained the palace of the rulers of Croatia and also a few ceremonial halls. The castle was used by the rulers as a place to live with their courtiers when they stayed in Knin and also to issue their documents.
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  • After its construction, in the 14th century, Knin Fortress was divided into two towns – a small and a big. The former was used mainly for defensive purposes whereas the latter consisted of the flats and accommodations that were occupied by the bishops, zupans and the governors of the town. The suburbs found their residence just outside the walls.
  • The oldest section of the fortress is the upper town on the northern side, whereas the lower and central cities were constructed later in the middle ages.
  • People also believe that an additional railing defensive wall was constructed in the 15th century as a result of the rising danger of the advance of Ottoman towards Europe. It is this railing on which, presently, the main entrance of the fortress is situated. But in May 1522, there was a siege on Knin by the Ottomans which ended in few days with the victory of the latter. Then in the late 17th century, it was conquered by Venetians and stayed with them until the fall of the Republic of Venice in 1797. 
  • The oldest representation of Knin on a map was recorded by Matteo Pagano, a Venetian cartographer, in 1525. It presented the fortress in the northern area of Lika and Dalmatia. Later, Orazio Antonio Alberghetti, a Venetian military engineer, handed over the more detailed description, depicting the urban appearance of the fortification. He came up with the format in 1688, at the time of the expulsion of the Turks. 

Flag of Croatia on the Fortress of Knin

The flag of Croatia on the Fortress is highly popular because of the recent history of the country. Also, the place has now become the “obligatory” place for the visitors as it is among the most prominent tourist attractions of Knin. It is so special because the flag was raised for the very first time during the last major battle of the Croatian War of Independence – Operation Storm. 

Moreover, the commander of Pumas, the 7th Guards Brigade, of the Croatian Army raised the first flag on 5th August 1995. There also exists a memorial plaque opposite the flag that fills the countrymen with pride. Knin was then declared the capital of the self-proclaimed Serbian Krajina Republic. 

So, the flag on the Knin Fortress has a lot of symbolic value, at least for the countrymen. The 20th anniversary of Operation Storm was celebrated in 2015 and on the occasion of it, a 20-meter long flag fluttered. 

What else does Knin have to offer? 

As you’ve read above, the Knin Fortress is what Knin is famous for. However, there are other attractions in Knin that are equally beautiful and worth your time. So, if you’re heading to the place and wish to make the most of your trip, make sure to have enough time to explore not only the fortress but also the below-mentioned places. 

Krcic River

Krcic River has been protected along with Krka River since 1964. The river is about 10 km long, beginning from the spring to Topoljski slap waterfall when in the end, it drains into Krka River. Along with the Krka River, it forms a beautiful and unique hydrographic system. Besides, it gives rise to abundant morphological and hydrological karst formations. 

It manages to stand out for its deep and picturesque canyon (it means a lot of pictures for your Instagram). The unusual uncovered relief forms and the lovely flexure of natural, geological layers from the Jurassic and Triassic eras mark the end of this beautiful canyon.

Manojlovac waterfall

If something natural and beautiful could make you weep, it is Manojlovac waterfalls. Note that you have to walk around 200 meters before you get to see the stunning view of the canyon and the waterfall from the above. The waterfall is the tallest in Krka National Park, and if you avoid crowdy visits to any place, this is what would soothe your mind and soul.

Reaching to the falls is a fantastic experience in itself as it includes around 40 minutes of the drive along narrow winding mountain roads. Head to the falls and get amazed by the views. If you’re someone who enjoys the company of no one but nature, this is your paradise. 

Burnum Ruins

This is something for patriot kind of people who find love in everything related to ancient struggles of a country. Burnum is an old Roman military camp which is located about 19 km from Knin towards Kistanje, in settlement of Ivosevci.

Although the place is not a show stopper but is worth a visit, it is a family spot where people can visit with their families and kids (a lot of space for them to run around) and have fun. What attracts the visitors the most is the acoustics in the incredibly preserved amphitheatre that has remnants of the military camp. 

Source of the River Cetina

Near the fortress of Knin is located the source of the River Cetina which has been declared as the natural wonders of Croatia by its visitors. The place offers a view that is entirely out worldly. The colours of the spring are so beautiful that they attract every single person. If you reach there at the right time – sometime before sunset – you can experience a stunningly beautiful sight. 

Moreover, the spring comes from 125 meters and to be very honest, you would never witness water as cleaner as it. It seems you are looking into nothing but clear air. With no entry fee, this is a natural wonder open for every passer-by who values its beauty. There could be nothing as refreshing and soothing as sitting by the spring, hearing its meditating sound, witnessing the out-of-the-world colours and then coming back with a bag full of memories with your best friend – nature!

With a visit to all these attractions, your trip would turn into a beautiful memory that you would cherish the rest of your life. How beautiful it is to see the symbols of the struggle of a town and then witness the beauty it has converted itself into! 

The Knin Fortress has a lot to offer when it comes to the sense of pride, determination, motivation and achievement. You get to see all these at one place that has gone through it all. Watch how it has turned into the most significant pillar of historical pride and manages to hold the second-largest military fortification now.

Expore Fortress of Knin, river Cetina spree, Visovac monestary in one day trip. Book HERE.

SEE ALSO: The Best Airbnbs Villas in Šibenik-Knin county

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